The City of San Diego has begun fueling its fleet of off-road landfill vehicles and equipment with renewable diesel, completing the switch to renewable diesel in its entire fleet of diesel-powered vehicles and equipment, according to the city. The move helps reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and further efforts to meet the city’s Climate Action Plan goals.
In 2016, the city became the first municipality in the nation with a large fleet to use renewable diesel in its 1,125 diesel-powered on-road vehicles. The fleet of 29 pieces of off-road landfill equipment — loaders, dozers, a stacker belt, and specialized equipment — previously ran on red-dye petroleum diesel and are the last to be converted to renewable diesel.
Derived from renewable resources including natural fats, vegetable oil, greases, and agricultural waste products, renewable diesel is a direct replacement fuel for petroleum diesel. Red dye is added to renewable diesel to indicate its use for off-road vehicles and exemption from state and federal taxes. According to the California Air Resources Board, this low-carbon fuel reduces GHG emissions by up to 80% compared to petroleum diesel.
In addition to being an environmentally-friendly fuel, renewable diesel is a “drop-in” fuel that can be used in engines designed to run on petroleum diesel without any modifications. Renewable diesel costs about five cents more per gallon than standard petroleum diesel but is a cleaner, smoother combusting fuel that improves engine performance, reduces maintenance costs, and maximizes engine life, according to the city.
“The city will continue to incorporate innovative technology and advancements in alternative fuels, such as with renewable diesel, to make vehicle and fueling operations more efficient, and help reduce vehicle emissions, maintenance costs and conserve fuel,” said Fleet Operations Department Director Casey Smith.
Last year, the city’s Climate Action Plan Annual Report detailed San Diego’s progress toward slashing GHG emissions with a 24 % decrease over the past decade — far surpassing the 2020 goal of 15%. The city’s Climate Action Plan calls for slashing GHGs in half by 2035 compared to emissions from 2010. The 2019 numbers marked the fourth consecutive year of reductions.